Saturday, July 20, 2019
Look at me...look at me...look at me now!
Dr. Seuss was a vital part of my childhood after having contracted paralytic polio at the age of 5.
From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
Miss Holly sat next to me in the waiting room and asked me to choose a Dr. Seuss book from the array of Dr. Seuss books spread out on the round coffee table next to my chair. My legs were outstretched; my left leg bore the hip to ankle metal leg brace inserted into my red polio shoes. My crutches were propped against the wall behind me. She read Dr. Seuss to me in the waiting room, led me into the treatment room and removed my leg brace. She placed heavy hot wool blankets on my legs. To this day I cannot bear to wear anything that is made of wool. As she coaxed my muscles and nerves back to health, she recited the first line from the Dr. Seuss book I had chosen (invariably “The Cat in the Hat”).
“The sun did not shine it was too wet to play…now it’s your turn.”
“So we sat in the house all that cold cold wet day.”
“I sat there with Sally….we sat there we two…your turn.”
“And I said how I wish we had something to do…”
We would recite in tandem throughout the treatment. She was a physical therapist ahead of her time. I often wonder what inspired her to use the rhythm of the poetry to distract me from the painful treatments. She tenderly put my leg brace back on after she finished the treatment. She commended me on my courage as she wrapped her hand around my hand on my crutch, and led me into Dr. Moskowitz’s office. He evaluated my progress, monitored me for scoliosis and gave me exercises to do at home. Picking up marbles with my toes was excruciatingly painful and difficult but even at my tender age, I loved the challenge of it all.
After this morning's strength training workout, Tom said, "I just had this memory while I was cooking breakfast. Do you remember when you used to have those specially adapted utensils?"
"Yeah," I answered. "I hadn't thought about that in a very long time."
My hand tremors made it very difficult for me to eat and the OT recommended weighted utensils with a hand grip.
I required a tub chair in the shower because I did not have the "endurance" to stand through an entire shower and my balance was not good so I was at risk for a fall.
I could barely walk up the stairs to our house, wore a toe up leg brace
and used a cane. We used Pea Pod grocery delivery service because I couldn't walk through the grocery aisles and often times there was not a scooter available. When we traveled or if I needed to walk for any distance, I used a wheelchair. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair and either adapt our Cape house or move to a Ranch. I had to drink liquids through a straw because I was at risk for choking and had to do a chin tuck and dry swallow when I ate to avoid aspiration of food into my lungs.
But look at me...look at me...look at me now!
I am a runner. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon and many 5 and 10K races through the years. I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon in 2009.
Here's one of my favorite running adventure moments in August of 2014:
After a serious knee injury in December of 2014, I was told that I would not and should not run again and to prepare for a total knee replacement in a few years.
But look at me now....I ran 3 consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
I had to take time off from racing after 3 consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons to heal and to get my mojo back. For someone who was supposed to be in a wheelchair, I was, however doing remarkably well.
On July 3, I had an epic comeback race, "The Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 5K"
While there are residual hand tremors, they are mild and I do need to be mindful as I eat, especially if I am feeling stressed, but I am able to walk up and down the stairs in my house with ease. I run at least twice a week, strength train twice a week and swim once a week. My body is resilient thanks in large part to regular chiropractic treatments with Dr. Lizzie Sobel and to a regular meditation practice during which I harness the power of the mind/body connection to maintain the momentum of my healing.
When once I experienced chronic pain and fatigue, I now experience vitality.
My quality of life has dramatically improved since that dark night of my mind, body and soul before, during and for a brief period of time after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, deemed by Western Medicine to be a progressive neuromuscular disease!
My purpose and passion in life is to share this miraculous journey of healing and to say look at me now...
that is not all oh no that is not all!
From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com
Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link
My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.